The International Journal of Early Childhood Special Education, the Journal of Positive School Psychology, and the International Journal of Control and Automation are a few of the real-sounding, fake journals that are a part of the racket that Indian PHDs and professors are paying to publish in.
For a few thousand rupees, Madhumita, a woman living in Belghoria, West Bengal, can get almost any research paper published in a Scopus-indexed journal. She and others like her are fixers for academics caught in the endless cycle of publishing and promotions, and PhD scholars desperate for their degrees.
Scopus, an index and citation database of journals and which claims to be the largest in the world is recommended for Indian academics. Presenting papers at conferences and getting published in journals is de rigueur, but the pressure is intense.
And this has led to the rise of an illegal industry of agents and touts who work in tandem with compromised peer-review boards to get substandard and sometimes completely fabricated research papers published in journals that are indexed by Scopus for as little as Rs 15,000. If unchecked, it has a long-term impact both in terms of adding uncertainty to what can be conclusively said as well as in destroying public trust in science and scientists to uphold the truth, warns Gautam Menon, professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University. It also ruins the credibility of Indian researchers in the international academic arena.
The International Journal of Early Childhood Special Education, Journal of Positive School Psychology, and International Journal of Control and Automation are among the hundreds of journals that claim to be Scopus-indexed. But their Scopus coverage has ended in the last two years. The papers they publish have no bearing on their scope. It’s a clear red flag.
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Recent papers published in the International Journal of Early Childhood Special Education include, ‘Impact of Media Imperialism on Indian Television Industry’ and ‘Examining the Coverage of Women Related Crime News’. And some agents continue to take payments from academics to publish papers in this journal.
Since its Scopus coverage was discontinued in 2020, the International Journal of Control and Automation has published research on the ‘Styles, Traditions and Skills in the Fine Arts of Uzbekistan’ or ‘Psychoanalytic Foundations of Artistic Mastery or Patriarchy’.
The Indian Institute of Science’s journal Current Science also put out an advisory in July 2017 on its website after two fake websites with similar domain names www.currentscience.org and www.currentscience.co.in were found to copy its content and publish articles from researchers for a fee. Both fake sites are now defunct.
The Newark City Hall acknowledged that it had been scammed by the notorious fugitive Nithyananda’s fictional nation, Kailasa.